To P – a reply to a question re Anosmia, Hyperattention and MCS


I recently received an email from someone who had read my Anosmia blog (about loss of the ability to smell).  I wasn’t able to reply directly so hopefully P will tune back into this blog looking for an update.

He felt his problem was undiagnosed MCS – Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

I don’t know if this view was based on negative results from medical testing or an internet based self-diagnosis, but in either case his wish was to turn off his obviously distressing hypersensitivity to smells.

Having given this some thought, I drafted up the following reply which I hope might be of help to P and anyone with similar problems…

“… I would be very dubious about trying to suppress or alter your sense of smell given its role in keeping you safe –  in new or unfamiliar environments, as well as in everyday life,  your ability to detect smells protects you from harmful chemicals,  fumes from petrol, leaking gas, car exhaust etc.
That said, I quite often work with people who are tormented by Tinnitus noise or optical floaters, both of which are currently incurable and which can distress people to the point of considering suicide.
Such individuals have developed a hypersensitivity to the symptoms of their problem  – creating a constant unconscious attentiveness, their minds always looking for the noise in the ears or the shadows in the eyes that then trigger off immediate fear/hate/anger/grief emotional responses.
In such cases I use hypnosis to reduce these stressful emotional responses, making symptoms less scary, hated and stressful.  As a result, the client becomes less and less angry or upset by them.
I help clients become more accepting and relaxed about their symptoms and thus less and less hyperattentive to the problem.  As a result they live with their symptoms, often going days or weeks without noticing them.
Treatment includes the use of post hypnotic suggestions such as, for Tinnitus… “…every day you will find that you are less and less aware of your problem…you find that you remember more and more all the  times you haven’t heard the sounds and you forget the times that you hear them.  In fact, you can choose to forget to remember those times you hear the sounds or maybe remember to forget when you hear them.  It’s your choice.  You decide”.
This deliberately confusing suggestion is decode by the subconscious and allows the hypersensitivity it has created to slowly ebb away.
In this way the client is given power over their problem and within 3 sessions or so I find that they are far less disturbed by their problem, if at all.
In your case P perhaps the suggestion should be along the lines of “…every day you will find the smells you once found overpowering don’t upset you quite as much as they used to.  You can still recognise a particular smell, know what it is, put a name to it, but the overpowering edge has gone from it.  It’s no longer overpowering.  It’s just like it used to be.  And every day you find you are less and less hypersensitive to smells…you find that you remember more  and more the times when smells have just seemed normal… like they always have…and you forget the times  you come across smells which are overpowering.   In fact, you can choose to either forget the times you encounter overpowering smells or choose to remember to forget them.  I don’t care.  It’s your choice.  You decide”.
 I hope this proves helpful to P and anyone else in his situation.
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Fear of Flying and Claustrophobia


Just received the following email from a recent client who came to me with an urgent need to deal with claustrophobia on underground trains and a strong fear of flying…

Hi Keith,  

Just wanted to drop an email to say thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me.

As it stands I now travel on the tube everyday with no anxiety, and as of yesterday I completed my eighth flight on my own and I am off to America for a solo countrywide tour with lots of internal flights. Without your help this would never have been possible. . Again, thank you so much.  WJ  Hornchurch Essex

The work we did together was done in only three sessions and included a tailor-made recording which I made for her to use as daily therapy between appointments.  She is also able to use it whilst travelling, together with my Healing Garden mp3 for more general stress-busting.

While it’s nice to receive positive feedback from clients, I also hope that this message will give hope and encouragement to others who are suffering similar fears and phobias and that it will spur them on to seek professional help so that they can improve the quality of both their working and personal lives. Continue reading

Dealing with the stress of Anosmia/Dysgeusia (loss or change in the senses of smell and taste)


Around 3m people in the UK are affected by some form of taste and smell dysfunction.

Some of them people suffer from treatable disorders such as chronic sinusitis or nasal polyps while others may have experienced permanent or long-term damage caused by ear surgery, injury to the mouth or nose, or as side-effects drugs such as captopril, lithium, procarbazine and certain drugs used in the treatment of cancer.

To get the medical terminology out of the way, Ageusia is the complete loss of sense of taste, Dysgeusia is distortion of the taste of things and Hypogeusia is a decrease in taste sensitivity. Anosmia is the inability to detect odours and as such, it  can either be an issue in its own right or else a major contributor to taste disorders.

Whether the problem is that of taste or smell or both, it can be extremely distressing for sufferers. Our enjoyment of food is focussed around taste and smell and without those we are just left with the texture and temperature of the food and the feeling of fullness it give us. Other than that, a large part of the pleasure is missing and many sufferers of Anosmia/Dysgeusia lose all interest and enjoyment in food and eating. And that is aside from the loss of enjoying a whiff of scent from a flower or a teasing hint of perfume in the air or the smell of fresh ground coffee or new baked bread or the scent of a new born baby’s skin.

With loss of these pleasures there often come feelings of frustration, anger, depression and grief. People with these problems will often withdrawn from socialising because so much of social life is focussed around celebratory meals, restaurant outings, enjoying a good glass of wine with friends, appreciating a gift of flowers and so on.

Impairment of taste and smell can also affect jobs and careers – the inability to smell or taste while working in hazardous environments where a smell of burning or taste of gas in the air is an early indicator of something being wrong makes employment in mining, gas, oil or chemical industries difficult. A doctor or paramedic being unable to smell alcohol on someone’s breath could lead to their misdiagnosing the reasons for a patient’s erratic behaviour and lead to serious errors in diagnosis and treatment. Any impairment of taste or smell can be dangerous not only for the sufferer but also for their colleagues and the people relying on their services.

Hypnotherapy cannot do anything to help restore functionality of sense of smell or taste but it can do a lot to help mitigate the sense of loss and anger and frustration at its happening. It can help those who have not totally lost their sense of smell or taste to optimise their remaining faculties so that they can make the most of enjoying what they can. It can also help stimulate their recall and enjoyment of those smells and tastes which they can no longer experience directly – the mere sight of a highly spiced meal bringing back memories of enjoyment and appetite without the need for the full taste/smell experience.

Post hypnotic suggestion can also be used to encourage those with partial taste/smell functions to remember all those times that they have a really satisfying taste/smell experience and to be far less aware of the unsatisfactory ones.

In these ways, quality of life can be optimised and feelings of loss, grief and anger minimised.

If any of my readers have any experience of these disorders or their treatment I would love to hear from you. Just leave me a Comment describing the causes of your problem and the emotions they engendered and how you found your own personal coping strategy. I’d also be interested to know whether or not you feel that the type of therapy described here might have been of benefit to and the reasons why/why not.

PS  update June 2017.  I have just come across an organisation called FifthSense (fifthsense.org.uk) which has beenmailinglist@fifthsense.org.uk set up to provide information and latest news on developments in the world of Anosmia.

How being a Perfectionist can damage your life


I attended a course last weekend which started me thinking about how much we all damage ourselves and our quality of life by indulging in Perfectionism.   We often think of Perfectionists as having some form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) where all can labels in the cupboards have to face forward and the cans and bottles have to be ranked in size order and by colour and content.

Most of us have some element of the Perfectionist within us – liking a tidy home or desk or having a regular place to put the kitchen scissors.  This type of behaviour helps us have more efficient and pleasant lives and avoids wasting hours of effort trying to find a roll of Cellotape.

However, our Perfectionism can become a problem when we start to apply it to ourselves and how we feel the world should treat us.  For instance, when the mechanism of the subconscious (which builds our map of the world and the everyday rules for living), starts to create rules which build an unrealistic expectation about the world around us and the way it should (must) treat us.

If we aren’t careful, we can begin to construct unrealistic rules for ourselves and then try to live by them, expecting the world to treat us well in return.  Examples of these beliefs could be  “I should never turn down the chance of doing something” or  “It must be 100% right.  Not even a tiny error is acceptable” or “My employer must always treat me well because I am a such a good worker and he really values my contribution”.

The result of creating these types of rule is that you put a massive amount of pressure on yourself and those around you to deliver something which is, in reality, unachievable.

“I should never turn down the chance of doing something” means that instead of having a varied and interesting life you are manically running/driving from one event to another.  Getting up early to get somewhere; leaving that event early to get somewhere else; frantically changing clothes for the next activity;  driving furiously to get somewhere else; always looking at the clock, cursing buses, trains and planes for being late; fretting and agitated in traffic jams; dragging friends and family around behind you in a frantic hurry to get somewhere and do something else rather than the thing you are actually doing!

Many people also apply this same “never turn anything down” rule to their work lives by never turning down a job or a project.  Clients tell me “it’s because they know I’m the only one who can  do it,”  “It’s my area of expertise”, “no one else can meet that kind of deadline”.  What they are really telling me is that their employer is exploiting their mistaken belief.  The Manager handing out the work probably thinks that my client is a mug for taking on more and more work; that they don’t really care what happens to one of their team when they eventually break down.  That as long as the job gets done and the Manager looks good, they’ll keep on piling on the work.  If it all goes wrong, they can blame the overworked and Perfectionist who has moved heaven and earth to make sure that they deliver a 100% perfect job.

The self-delusion that one is valued at work and that a company cares still runs deep in the veins of many employees, despite the evidence in front of them every day.  They will tolerate bullying, abuse and overwork because they fear the effort of finding a new job and lack the confidence to rise to the challenge of being given tasks without the right training, timescale or resources.  The chances are that if your boss never has to say “do it or I’ll find someone else who will” when loading another massive burden on your already overburdened back, then it’s YOU who’s the one taking on the work others have already said is impossible to do in the time/for the money/without more resource etc!

Another corrosive belief is that “it must be 100% right, otherwise the rest of what I’ve done is useless and worthless and I am a useless and worthless person who doesn’t deserve thanks or praise”.   No amount of praise can be meaningful to his kind of Perfectionist.  It rolls off them as their subconscious mind rejects what it sees as hollow words from people who  “just don’t know how much better the result could have been if only I could have done a better job”.  This creates in the Perfectionist a deep well of frustration and dissatisfaction with everything in their lives.  They feel bad all the time.  They might turn to drink, drugs, sex or food for comfort in order to achieve that elusive feeling of control over their lives. They might begin to blame others for their lack of perceived achievement, or break up relationships or just work harder and harder until they eventually break down.

The payback which comes from all this manic behaviour is often the firm belief that “My employer must always treat me well because I am a such a good worker and he values my contribution so much”.  Perfectionists believe this of their families too “because I work until 2am every night cleaning the kitchen the family must love me more and show me their appreciation”.

But because everyone views the Perfectionist as neurotic and unreasonable, they don’t value that person more.  In fact, they probably value them less than they would if they just worked 9-5 in the office and spent their time enjoying relaxation with the family playing games and doing trivial things.

As I’m always telling my clients, it’s OK to want to do things to the best of your abilities, but only within the context of the time, energy and other commitments that you have.

If you find yourself under constant pressure, ask yourself why.  What are the beliefs which are driving you to be under that pressure?  What makes the rules you’ve created for yourself true?  What less pressing rules could you create?  Are the rules you are currently living your life to actually out of date – were they right for when you were younger but are they appropriate to life as it is now?

Try writing down the rules which trouble you most and think about them.  How much do they ruin your life?  What would happen if you didn’t obey them?  What would you lose  AND, more importantly, what would you gain?

Why not take a look at the Perfectionist in your own life, and see how your own work and home life could be improved?

Painkiller Headaches & Hypnosis


This week has seen media coverage of a problem affecting up to 1m people in the UK who are suffering from “completely preventable” severe headaches caused by taking too many pain killers.

“Medication Overdose Headaches” have been brought to public attention by the latest NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) Guidelines on the topic.

It may surprise readers to learn that no one knows exactly how painkillers work or how it affects the brain in the treatment of headaches.

The new NICE Guideline to GPs is that patients suffering from MOH be advised to stop taking painkillers immediately, despite the fact that they run the risk of suffering potentially agonising pain as the headaches continue without the benefit of analgesia.  Having been through this period of withdrawal, symptoms are expected to gradually improve if not disappear altogether.

Dr Massio Riccio, a leading addiction specialist at the Priory Clinic in Roehampton is quoted by the BBC News website as saying that “those trying to kick a serious codeine habit may suffer symptoms not dissimilar to someone weaning themselves off a class A drug.  You may well experience increased perspiration, cold sweats, stomach cramps, a runny nose, and generally feel unwell.  Psychologically you may feel more irritable and may not sleep well”.

If YOU think that you might be affected by the problem of MOH then the first thing to do is to consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

If you are advised to stop taking painkillers with immediate effect and suffer painful withdrawals symptoms, you might consider consulting a hypnotherapist.

Hypnotherapy can help in a number of ways:-

  • For Tension headaches, it can help you relax and release the tension which is creating the pain.  It can also be used to help you deal with the source of the anxiety causing the tension and thereby help provide a long term solution to the problem.
  • Migraine can also be helped by hypnosis.  In addition to release tension caused by an attack it can also help reduce the fear of future attacks and help you deal with the severity of the current  symptoms,  including the nausea and sensitivity to light and sound which accompanies it.  It can also help you deal with the stressful things which might bring on an attack and teach you ways of protecting yourself from frequent re-occurrence.
  • For those suffering from Cluster headaches (causing swelling around the eyes – making them red and watery – together with  severe pain around the eyes and sides of the face)  it can help reduce the stress of the attacks and the sensitivity to the pain it produces.

For all kinds of headache conditions I always teach a variety of pain control techniques and self-hypnosis to help put the client more in control of their own particular set of triggers and symptoms.

If you’d like to know more about how hypnotherapy can help you, please refer to my website at wwww.keithjeffordhypnotherapy.co.uk

Are you suffering from Burnout? Try this quiz…


There seems to be a worrying increase in the number of clients who visit me with all the symptoms of what used to be called “executive stress,” but is now more accurately described as  burnout.

To find out how well you are coping with the pressures of life, try answering the questions at the foot of this blog, giving yourself a score ranging from 0 for “Not At All” up to 5 for “All The Time”.

If your score is 0-30 then you are one of the lucky ones who enjoy their work and are able to cope with the pressures of life.  However, before you get too smug, just look at any of the questions which scored 4 or 5 and think about how you could improve things for yourself.

If you scored 31-55 then you need to start looking after yourself.  Think about how you might change what’s happening.  You are very rarely without the power to effect change, you just need to find the right levers to pull.  If you really do feel helpless, then it’s time to seriously consider a change of job, career or circumstances.

If you scored 55+ then you are definitely at risk.  Now is the time to do something about it.  Take back some of the time the company is stealing from you.  Don’t get in quite so early.  Take a lunch break, even if it’s only half an hour.  Leave a bit earlier every day.  Make it a rule to only work a set number of hours at the weekend – and then only if you really have to.  Weekends should be for you, not your employer.  If you don’t make changes, then you are running the risk of burnout.

I always explain the process of burnout to my clients in terms of our personal energy being like petrol and diesel oil.

Our everyday energy is like petrol; it is lighter, more easily consumed but is easier to regenerate with a good night’s sleep.  It’s what nature provides to keep us fit and healthy, both physically and emotionally.

By contrast, the heavier energy is thick and oily, like diesel.  It is the energy which we need to dip into at times of prolonged stress and difficulty.  It burns more slowly and we have deep reserves but it is replaced only very slowly.  So working longer hours than are sensible, worrying and fretting continuously, feeling frustrated and trapped leads eventually to this heavy energy becoming exhausted, creating a feeling of being unable to cope with anything at all.  At this point the brain goes into a self-defence mode which creates a state of exhausted torpor.  I experienced this years ago and for a week couldn’t make the decision between wanting a cheese or a ham sandwich for lunch.  I was physically too tired to even think about it.  I just wanted to sit and either cry or sleep.  After a week or so my heavy energy began to reassert itself and my brain began to come back on-line, but for weeks afterwards it was very difficult to do more than just go through the motions of daily life while my body continued to replenish my energy store and restore my normal vitality.

If you wonder if you are close to burnout, then perhaps this questionnaire will help you take an objective view of life….

Do you find yourself feeling increasingly tearful or sorry for yourself?
Do you have repetitive negative thoughts  running through your head, especially relating to your job?
Are you increasingly impatient with the people you work with?
Do even trivial problems become huge ones in your mind?
Do you feel that you are doing other people’s work for them and that you can’t take on any more?
Are you feeling trapped by the need to earn money but not being able to find another job?
Do you feel bullied by senior staff or that you are given unachievable targets/tasks?
Do you dream of getting a new job or a new career with less hassle and stress?
Do you work evenings and weekends to the detriment of your family & friends, and yourself?
Do you feel unfilled by your work?
Are you  frustrated your job and the management structure around it?
Are you angry at having to take short cuts or having too little time to do a thorough job?
Do you find that you are too busy dealing with today to plan properly for tomorrow?
Do you find that you sleep poorly and/or have stress dreams (eg. trying to find your way to a meeting through a maze of corridors, wearing only a bathrobe to work, being anxious to get somewhere but being frustrated at every turn etc)?
 Do you feel totally exhausted at the end of each day?

If you’re looking for a hypnotherapist, check this out…


I recently received the following enquiry from a prospective client which I though my readers might find of interest…

I found your website through Google. Although I work away I am at home most weekends. I am considering hypnosis to help me get over a difficult emotional time. I have been advised by my GP to check any therapists credentials thoroughly. I hope you don’t think this rude in any way. Can you let me know which organisation you trained in for your CTB/REBT, NLP, EMT and counselling. Do you have insurance and how long you have been a therapist. Do you offer Friday evening or weekend appointments and how much per session. Many thanks Sue

I hope that my reply might help those considering hypnotherapy but are unsure how to find  a properly trained and qualified therapist…

Hi Sue,
Many thanks for contacting me with your questions.  No, I don’t think they’re rude at all, they are very sensible and I wish that more people would ask questions of their therapists!!
Because your questions are so fundamental to finding a good therapist this reply is probably more fulsome than you might have expected.   I plan to add the information below to my blog as a guide to others looking for help, so you might as well have the benefit of a sneak preview of the content…
So, to answer your questions:-
a)  Your GP’s recommendation to check out credentials comes from the fact that the term Hypnotherapist, is as yet, an unprotected title.  In other words, ludicrous as it might seem, anyone – trained or not – can set themselves up as a hypnotherapist. This appalling situation is an historic anomaly which is being addressed by the profession and regulatory bodies right now.  However, for now, caveat emptor is the byword in choosing a hypnotherapist.
b)  I received my training at the Institute of Clinical Hypnosis (www.ichynposis.co.uk) in London. It might  be useful for you to take a look at their website and click on the Courses tab where you can read details of all the elements of training which I received.  I consider the training I received to have been not only thoroughly enjoyable but also very comprehensive.  Since completing my training and going into practice, I have never found myself at a loss as to what to do with a client and I have (modestly!) a very high success rate.
In addition, and as part of my membership of this and other professional organisations, I  undertake annual Continual Professional Development training.  This usually takes the form of weekends training in a particular technique or aspect of therapy.  So far my CPD has covered advanced elements of therapy such as Eye Movement Therapy, Weight Loss strategies, Advanced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Use of Metaphors in Hypnosis, Current and Past Life regression analysis,  Deep States Training plus others.   I also undertake a set amount of reading of technical papers/instructional books etc each year and attend quarterly meetings of the Association of the ICH where we attend lectures and brief training sessions on a wide range of topics. I also attend a number of ad hoc  events during the year such as Professor Windy Dryden’s recent revival of the 1930’s tradition of doing 45 minute CBT therapy sessions in front of an invited audience and the Royal Society of Medicine Hypnotherapy Section’s meeting on Pain Control.
These activities allow me to meet and network not just with hypnotherapists but also with therapists from many other disciplines and thus create a support network of people who have particular and very specialist knowledge which I regularly tap into for ideas and advice.
c)  I am a Registered Practitioner with the General Hypnotherapy Register (one of the largest registers of reputable hypnotherapists in the UK) and the CNHC (Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council), a government and NHS sponsored organisation which registers practitioners with recognised qualifications and experience.  CNHC registered practitioners are preferred suppliers to the NHS (take a look at their website for more info).   You can look me up on the register of both organisation too!
I would advise you to avoid anyone who has trained online.  The essence of successful hypnotherapy is not just about knowing facts but in the practice and the advice and support of tutors/supervisors.  It  requires the development and practice of “bedside manner” skills and empathy, and tuning of techniques, which simply can’t be learned over the internet IMHO.
c)   Yes, I am insured through Towergate Insurance who seem to handle a lot of the professional indemnity insurance for hypnotherapists.
d)  I have been qualified since July 2008 and immediately started practice.  I work full time from a purpose built therapy room in the Havering area.
e)  I offer weekday & evening appointments starting at 9.30am and starting the last appointment at 7.00pm.  I do Saturday’s from 9.30 to midday.  I can also do Sundays by exception.
f)  I charge £60 per session which includes the cost of a CD given at the end of the first session, any tailor-made CD’s provided thereafter and any advice packs or special instruction sheets required.
I hope that these answers give you the information you are looking for.
 One more word of advice I would offer is to always speak to a prospective therapist on the phone to briefly discuss your problem.  Things to look out for are i) whether or not they are genuinely interested in discussing you problem and learning more about it or just anxious to get you to book an appointment b)  if their questions demonstrate a knowledge or understanding of your issues c)  if their comments have some insight and good sense.  Ask yourself “do they sound like my kind of person?”.  Some therapists specialise in the “that must be dreadful” school of sympathy.  Personally, I don’t do a lot of sympathetic clucking but a lot of empathic understanding (or so my clients tell me).  So a phone call is really worthwhile.  The question is “can I really work with and trust this person?”
If you’d like to chat further, or you’ve any questions unanswered, please do feel free to give me a call.  I’m always happy to discuss concerns and make sure that you’re happy with whatever you decide to do.
In the meantime, best wishes with your search.  Keith